Can Reproduction Repeat Last Spring’s Success?
With a busy weekend ahead, and no new ideas for a blog post, I headed hesitantly to a university interview. My mind was filled with possible questions and appropriate answers to be worrying about a review.
Turns out, my interview gave me a light-bulb of an idea when mentioning plays I had seen. Usually, I need to make sure that the play is running to review and this particular play is being re-run; different places but same director (Ivo van Hove) and actors. Hmm, to watch, or not to watch, that is the question I’ll answer today.SO LET’S GET THE PLOT DONE…
Arthur Miller’s “modern man’s tragedy”. Eddie Carbone (The Imitation Game’s Mark Strong) lives in 1950’s Red Hook, New York with his wife, “B” Beatrice (Last Tango in Halifax’s Nicola Walker) and niece, Catherine (The Woman in Black 2’s Phoebe Fox). A respected man, he takes in B’s two illegal immigrant cousins, Rodolpho and Marco. Lawyer Alfieri provides the narrative, telling a story of love, paranoia, and catastrophe.
The play is good. Got it? Written by one of, if not the greatest American dramatists of all time, and I while I won’t start spewing out praise of Arthur Miller, I want to make this very clear: THIS PLAY IS GOOD! I am reviewing – no – recommending this production of the play based on what I saw a year ago. Bear that in mind.
To fill those who are less enlightened to the all-powerful Miller’s plays, he likes realism. His plays mirrored the lives of the audience. The themes are relevant today. We’ve all watched the news, we know how immigration is treated like the eighth deadly sin. But to create realism, he has very specific stage directions, lyrical almost. You could make an entire book on his stage directions, and not get bored. Ok, you would probably get bored, but not so quickly.
In this adaptation, the stage is a white, blank space, with a drain in the middle. Hmm, I don’t recall myself living in a white void. However, remembering his idea of relatability, we would relate better to this than a 1950’s flat in Red Hook. So while going completely against everything that Miller gives in the original text, they somehow find a way to make it work. Clever going.
The character’s relationships between each other stumped me a little bit. Eddie and Catherine’s relationship got a little out of hand. Like if Léon: The Professional kept it’s deleted scene of underage sex. Way to ruin your thoughts on the movie. Catherine’s full-frontal hugs and her legs wrapping around Eddie are too much. Really, calm it down. Your related and that’s- wait, what are you doing? YOU’RE KISSING? This got very awkward.
Yes, their relationship wasn’t great. The actors were amazing themselves, and gave moving performances (well, the scene at which had ten minute pauses between each line was like being slowly dipped into liquid nitrogen). However, Rodolpho went slightly Nicholas Cage on us, suddenly going “0 to 100 real quick”, cooly calm then blazing with the fury of a thousand supernovas.
SO I GUESS IN CONCLUSION…
Cutting off quickly, but I have nothing more worthy of saying (and the word count is getting high). The adaptation lived up to being a great Miller play, boldly experimenting with its sixty-year-old history of performances (actually sixty this year). However, while it contained a superb physical cast, it failed to deliver on the realism we needed to relate to the story. In honesty, yes, I enjoyed watching this play and the physicality of the theatre, yet the drastic change in set and minimal lighting may have escaped execution with the production, only because of the play’s well-respected backing.
Fancy a day out? You can book tickets for the play here: http://www.youngvic.org/whats-on/a-view-from-the-bridge (also showing on national theatre live broadcasts around the country).